As widely venerated as David Cage’s Heavy Rain became when it released in 2011, not all of its frequent attempts at turning The Smaller Things in Life into compelling interactive entertainment were created equal. Be it tooth brushing, shaving or dressing wounds, repetitive tasks that were designed to immerse gamers into the life of protagonist Ethan Mars were received by some as transcendent, by others tedious.
Fortunately for the latter party, it won’t be happening again in Beyond: Two Souls.
Speaking in an extensive interview with Eurogamer on the creation and development of his upcoming paranormal thriller, Cage discussed the way events will unfold in the game’s single-player narrative. For one, the 15-year story arc surrounding heroine Jodie Holmes won’t be presented sequentially; Cage used the term “chronological disorder” — “like in the film Memento” — to describe how Beyond might jump from Jodie’s adult life in one scene back to her teenage years in the next.
But it also seeks to prevent recurrence — recurrence of a player’s actions throughout gameplay or experiences throughout story.
“[Players will] never do twice the same thing.
“Beyond is not based on patterns and levels. Each moment is different. Each scene offers you a different challenge. Each scene is unique, like you see in a film.”
As testimony to its thematic diversity, Cage claims that Beyond’s E3 2012 train-escape demo — a gameplay sequence wherein Jodie, assisted by her ethereal companion Aiden, leaps from a speeding train in a frantic flight from the law — is the only chase sequence present throughout entire game.
It makes for an appropriate metaphor: Beyond, racing through Jodie’s life, peeling away the secrets behind Aiden and the afterlife, can still jump anywhere at any time. How such a cinematic lens shapes the pacing and tempo of Beyond’s action remains to be seen; however with its Oscar-nominated cast (Jodie is portrayed by Ellen Page while Willem Dafoe was confirmed last month as the scientist Nathan Dawkins) and nixing of the quick-time events that were so pervasive in Heavy Rain, it’s certainly well-suited for a game that’s reportedly longer (at 12-15 hours) than said slow-starting predecessor.
What’s your view of the variety that Cage is infusing into Beyond: Two Souls? Did some of Heavy Rain’s more repetitive elements help create an immersive experience… or induce a deeper sleep?
Beyond: Two Souls releases October 8, 2013, exclusively for PlayStation 3.
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